BEFORE YOU POST IT, VERIFY IT

Oga D-Law e-newsletter

The introduction of social media no doubt has boosted the speed of communication; it is a plus to our daily lives. However, as we look at it socially, we must also look at it legally, especially in the context that attract criminal liability. First, you could bag huge liability for posting a defamatory statement about another person. Secondly you can attract criminal liability in line with the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2011.


It is unlawful to publish which includes posting on social media a statement or report which will cause fear to the public or interrupt public peace. Anyone who violates the law could be jailed for 2 years.


Section 39. (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011, provides that any person who publishes or reproduces any statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace, knowing or having reason to believe that such statement, rumour or report is false, is guilty of a misdemeanor and liable to imprisonment for two years.


It is not a defence that you do not know or did not have reason to believe that the statement, rumour or report was false unless you are able to prove to the Court that, prior to the publication or reproduction, you took reasonable measures to verify the accuracy of such statement, rumour or report.


Why risk a jail-term because you want to be socially pro-active, the definition of publication that is likely to cause fear or interrupt public peace is for the court to interpret. Sometimes ago, a message that was circulated around, that salt water cures Ebola could be tamed as one, a broadcast that Armed robbers are robbing in a particular public road which turns out to be untrue could be interpreted to have caused fear.

Save yourself the need to argue with the prosecution, verify that facts are true before you publish and if you are not certain, and you need to publish same either by electronic means or hard copies, consult your Solicitor for advice before publishing same.


Please see the Criminal Law of Lagos

THINKING MARRIAGE? IT’S NOT JUST SOCIAL, IT’S LEGAL

Marriage is indeed a one-time step to take. When marriages are to be contracted, several factors are slashed over each other. This publication focuses on the modes of celebration and the legal effects on the couples and their children.


Under the Nigerian legal system, there are 3 modes of marriages:-


1.Marriage under the Statute

2.Customary Marriage

3. Islamic Marriage


These modes of marriages are not identified by where it was done instead, the law focuses on how it was done. For instance, a marriage at a church which is not registered with the ministry of interior affairs is merely a "church blessing". It is settled that, for a marriage to be regarded as a statutory marriage, it must be celebrated at a marriage Registry or in a religious institution which is registered with the ministry of internal affairs for the purpose of celebrating marriages ( returns are usually been made to the ministry).


The major distinctions between the modes of marriages are the mode of dissolution (divorce) and the status of the spouses and children in terms of succession (inheritance).


The law forbids celebrating a marriage when either of the parties is married to another person. However, Islamic law and customary laws permit polygamy. Please be advised that marriages celebrated under the Act are governed by the Act. They appear to be more protective of the wife and the children of the marriage. On the other hand, marriages celebrated under Islamic law are divinely governed and remain the best option for a practising Muslim.


Need i say that, some couples tend to do all, but when all is done, the statutory marriage overrides other forms. A Walimotul Nikkah is an Islamic Marriage, while a marriage contracted and celebrated at the marriage registry is a typical example of a statutory marriage. Customary marriage is deemed to be done at the payment and acceptance of bride price in the presence of witnesses, by implication, an engagement is a customary marriage.


Marriages celebrated under the Act can only be dissolved by the Order Absolute of an High Court, while marriages celebrated under customs can be dissolved in some communities merely by packing the wife property out of the matrimonial home or by refund of bride price.


When a man dies intestate ( without writing a will) and had during his life time married under customary law, his wife is not entitled to the estate. Instead the children, whether born within or outside wedlock are beneficially entitled.


However, when a man dies intestate ( without leaving a will) and had during his life time married under the statute ( at the registry or at a registered religious institution) the wife is entitled to one-third of the estate.


So when you think marriage, it is not a bad idea if you contact your Solicitor to advice you on what mode of celebration is appropriate for your social status.


Please consult your Solicitor or see the Marriage Act, Matrimonial Causes Act and the Administration of Estates Law for a better understanding.

Oga D-Law e-newsletter

Oga D-Law e-newsletter is published by Gbolahan Oluyemi, a Solicitor practising in Lagos.

His email is omogbolahanoluyemi@gmail.com